Olivier Giroud brace helps France win away to Luxembourg
Luxembourg 1 - 3 France

Olivier Giroud brace helps France win away to Luxembourg

France saw off a spirited challenge from Luxembourg to win 3-1 at Stade Josy Barthel and stay clear at the top of World Cup qualifying Group A.

Les Bleus took the lead through a close-range finish from Olivier Giroud before both teams won penalties in the space of four first-half minutes.

Aurelien Joachim drew Luxembourg level from the spot in the 34th minute after Blaise Matuidi pushed over Daniel Da Mota.

Da Mota, though, then quickly gave away another penalty at the other end when he tripped Djibril Sidibe, and Antoine Griezmann put France back in front.

Giroud nodded in a late third to secure the victory which sees France move back above Sweden, who had earlier defeated Belarus 4-0 in Solna.

Luxembourg, with just one point and three defeats from their opening four qualifiers, produced the first chance when Stefano Bensi tested goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, but Les Bleus' captain made a comfortable save.

France, missing Paul Pogba through suspension, the Manchester United midfielder also nursing a hamstring problem, were soon on the front foot.

Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann whipped a 20-yard free-kick just too high, before then failing to lift the ball over goalkeeper Anthony Moris after being played clear into the area.

The Luxembourg number one, though, picked up a knee injury as he had raced out to close down Griezmann, and after lengthy treatment was eventually replaced by Ralph Schon.

France remained on the offensive and swept into the lead after 28 minutes.

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante fed Griezmann on the right side of the penalty area, and he laid the ball off to Sidibe on the overlap.

The full-back looked up and pulled the ball across the six-yard box where Giroud was on hand to knock in his 22nd international goal.

The lead, however, lasted only six minutes as Luxembourg equalised from a penalty.

France failed to deal with a corner from the right and as the ball was eventually lofted back into the box, Matuidi fouled Da Mota. The referee immediately pointed to the spot before showing the Paris St Germain midfielder a yellow card.

Following a lengthy delay for an injury to Giroud, Joachim - who plays his club football in the Belgian First Division B for Lierse - made no mistake as he crashed the ball past Lloris.

The hosts' joy proved short lived, though.

France were themselves awarded a penalty when Da Mota clipped the heels of Monaco defender Sidibe as he got into the right side of the area.

Griezmann stepped up to beat Schon, who guessed right but could only palm the ball into the net.

France almost went further ahead before half-time when Matuidi's low, 25-yard strike came back off the base of the post.

Luxembourg could have equalised again early in the second half, but Da Mota missed his kick when arriving onto a sweeping left-wing cross at the far post as Sidibe cleared.

France were forced into a change just after the hour when Sidibe went off to be replaced at right-back by Lyon's Christophe Jallet.

Matuidi saw a goal-bound effort cleared off the line, before Schon saved from Griezmann.

The third goal finally arrived with 13 minutes left when Giroud headed in a perfectly-weighted cross from the left by Benjamin Mendy.

With the points secure, coach Didier Deschamps handed a late debut to 18-year-old Kylian Mbappe, the Monaco forward replacing Dimitri Payet to become the youngest France international since 1955.

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